Many options short of war with Iran: Trump
President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he tours a section of the southern border wall, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump says there are many options short of going to war with Iran after US ally Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of sponsoring a crippling attack on its oil sites.
"There are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options that are a lot less than that. And we'll see," Trump told reporters in Los Angeles.
"I'm saying the ultimate option meaning go in - war."
Trump, who earlier said on Twitter he had ordered the US Treasury to "substantially increase sanctions on the country of Iran!" told reporters the unspecified, punitive economic measures would be unveiled within 48 hours.
Trump's tweet on Wednesday followed repeated US assertions that the Islamic Republic was behind Saturday's attack and came hours after Saudi Arabia said the strike was a "test of global will".
Iran again denied involvement in the September 14 raids, which hit the world's biggest crude oil processing facility and initially knocked out half of Saudi output. Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil exporter.
Responsibility was claimed by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group, which on Wednesday gave more details of the raid, saying it was launched from three sites in Yemen.
In a remark that may further strain an already tense political atmosphere in the Gulf, the Houthis also said they had dozens of sites in the United Arab Emirates, Riyadh's top Arab ally, listed as possible targets for attacks.
In an attempt to bolster its assertion that Iran was responsible, Saudi Arabia showed drone and missile debris it said amounted to undeniable evidence of Iranian aggression.
A total of 25 drones and missiles were used in the attacks launched from Iran, not Yemen, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki told a news conference.
"The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran," he said.
An investigation into the origin of the attacks was still under way and the result will be announced later, he added.
Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the strike was a "real test of the global will" to confront subversion of the international order.
His envoy to London Prince Khalid bin Bander told the BBC the attack was "almost certainly" Iranian-backed.
"We're trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region," he said.
The Islamic Republic dismissed the allegations.
"They want to impose maximum ... pressure on Iran through slander," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.
"We don't want conflict in the region ... Who started the conflict?" he added, blaming Washington and its Gulf allies for the war in Yemen.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Jeddah on Wednesday and was due to meet Prince Mohammed to discuss the crisis, before heading to the UAE.
UN officials monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen were also heading to Saudi Arabia to investigate.
© RAW 2019